Kansas Common Sense


Welcome to “Kansas Common Sense.” Thanks for your continued interest in receiving my weekly newsletter. Please feel free to forward it on to your family and friends if it would interest them.

On Wednesday, President Trump announced a trade agreement between the United States and Japan that will reduce or eliminate tariffs on $7 billion of U.S. agricultural goods when implemented including on Kansas beef, pork, sorghum and wheat.

Japan is currently the second-largest ag export market for Kansas and once implemented, this agreement will further expand export opportunities for Kansas producers. I look forward to reviewing all of the details of this agreement, and I’ll continue working with my colleagues in Washington, D.C. and Kansas farmers and ranchers to find permanent solutions to ongoing trade conflicts.

Last week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced impeachment proceedings for President Trump. Speaker Pelosi’s actions are a rush to judgment and were made before most of the facts were known. Absent concrete evidence of high crimes and misdemeanors, Congress should not use impeachment proceedings to overturn the results of an election. Since President Trump’s election, Democrats have been trying to delegitimize his presidency, and if unfounded, impeachment of President Trump would only further fracture our already divided country.

Passing Critical Appropriations Bills for FY2020

On Thursday, the Senate Committee on Appropriations approved my bill, the FY2020 Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS) Appropriations Act. This legislation provides funding for the U.S. Departments of Commerce and Justice, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the National Science Foundation, and related agencies.

I take my role of being a responsible steward of taxpayer dollars very seriously and I’m pleased this bill is fiscally responsible and prioritizes key investments for public safety, law enforcement, rural broadband, aerospace initiatives and infrastructure, the National Science Foundation, NASA and a number of additional programs important to Kansans. In addition, this bill accelerates the goal of returning American astronauts to the moon, cements America’s leadership in space exploration and includes important resources for STEM Education programs to inspire the next generation of scientists.

This legislation will also provide a pay raise for law enforcement and continue to fund important programs to keep communities in Kansas safe. This includes programs created by the STOP School Violence Act and resources to conduct “Operation Triple Bean” and “Operation Save a Casing.” Kansans will benefit from this legislation for many years to come, and I look forward to working with my colleagues to get this measure to the President’s desk.

One of the greatest responsibilities I have as a U.S. Senator is to nominate Kansas students to attend service academies. Last week, applicants from across Kansas interviewed before my Service Academy Selection Board, another step in the process of securing a nomination to one of our service academies.

I am proud of these young students for their desire to serve our nation, and I’m grateful to the Service Academy Selection Board for the thoughtful consideration they put into the application process. These students applying to enter service academies represent the best of Kansas, and it was an honor to spend time with them in Hutchinson. To watch a short recap of the day, click here.


This week, the Army awarded two new contracts to continue much-needed remediation at the former Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant in De Soto. This ammunition plant was decommissioned in 1997, and since then, Kansans have made significant efforts to redevelop the land. I appreciate that the Army has added more work to its cleanup efforts and has kept the De Soto and Johnson County communities apprised of their work after my requests for increased action and transparency. I will continue to work closely with Johnson County leaders, local officials and the Army to see this project to completion.

On Wednesday, the President of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, Esther George, testified before the Senate Banking Committee. The hearing provided members of the committee with an overview of the payments system in the United States, as well as ways to improve the financial transactions that we use every day. Last month, the Federal Reserve Board announced a project to develop a faster payments system in the United States called FedNow. This system will provide Kansans with real-time payment capabilities and vastly improve the speed and efficiency of financial transactions. Community banks and small businesses serve a wide-range of customers in our expanding economy and require a faster payments system that can meet those demands. Ms. George will be the Executive Sponsor of the project and I look forward to working with her to ensure the FedNow service meets the needs of Kansas businesses and banks. To watch our discussion, click here.


On Wednesday, during a Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs hearing I questioned Dr. David Butler of the National Academies of Sciences regarding servicemember toxic exposure and the efforts underway to monitor and prevent toxic exposure and the health conditions it can inflict. In 2014, I attended a conference in Wichita hosted by the Vietnam Veterans of America on toxic exposure and I visited with veterans who experienced the consequences of exposure and learned about the health conditions that children and grandchildren suffer from due to what is believed to be toxic exposure.

In light of this, I introduced the Toxic Exposure Research Act of 2016 which was unanimously passed in late 2016. This bill included a provision that required a scientific review and assessment to be conducted by the National Academies of Sciences regarding toxicological and epidemiological research on descendants of individuals with toxic exposure and the descendants of those individuals. It also required the creation of a board to advise the Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs on the research of toxic exposure.

The National Academies of Sciences published their report in November of last year which confirmed that there is a substantial lack of information on the generational effects of toxic exposure. The next step, as prescribed in my bill, is to begin monitoring and researching the generational effects of toxic exposure. I look forward to seeing the VA’s plan for achieving that next step and will continue to pay close attention to the outcomes of this research to improve the healthcare and livelihood of our nation’s great veterans.

On On Tuesday, I attended a Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Aviation and Space hearing focused on improving the air traffic control system. During the hearing, I questioned witnesses from across the aviation industry on how we can best adapt and evolve our systems. With recent attempts to privatize air traffic control, it is imperative that we maintain strong support for this complex network and those who operate it. I also discussed my recent legislation, the Aviation Funding Stability Act, that would help protect the aviation sector from the damages caused by a government shutdown. Previous shutdowns have impacted every function of aviation and air travel, all while putting a strain on air traffic controllers nationwide. While I’ve long said that we must avoid government shutdowns, it is crucial that we have the safety net of this legislation to provide much-needed certainty to those who rely on the FAA. Click here to watch these remarks and click here to read more on my Aviation Funding Stability Act.

On Tuesday, I met with Ambassador Barbara Barrett, nominee to be the Secretary of the Air Force. During our meeting, we discussed her vision for the future of the Air Force and how we can work together to continue Kansas’ contributions to our national defense strategy.

We specifically discussed Kansas’ role as the home of the Air Force’s new tanker, the KC-46. While I am pleased that McConnell Air Force Base in Wichita was selected as the first base to fly the new tanker, I expressed my concerns with the problems that have plagued this aircraft and their subsequent impact on Team McConnell. Ambassador Barrett confirmed that she will prioritize developing a plan to get the KC-46 operational so our Airmen can utilize their new tanker. We also discussed the Air Force’s procurement of the Light Attack Aircraft.  For several years, the Air Force has relied on industry partners, including Textron in Wichita, Kansas, to test aircraft that would provide a low-cost way to strike violent extremist and reduce the burden placed on 4th and 5th Generation fighter planes.

Kansas has always played a leading role in supporting our nation’s military. I look forward to working with Ambassador Barrett to advance Air Force and Kansan priorities.

On Monday, I welcomed Kansas and Missouri agricultural leaders to the Ag Outlook Forum in Kansas City, hosted by the Agricultural Business Council of Kansas City and Agri-Pulse. The annual forum gives overview of the agricultural economy, details recent innovations and technology updates, and provides for collaboration between area ag and animal health stakeholders. During my remarks to those in attendance, I discussed my work in the Senate to get USMCA across the finish line and I gave an update on appropriations measures to provide the resources necessary for the USDA to execute their planned relocations of the Economic Research Service and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture to Kansas City, as well as resources for the completion of the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility in Manhattan. These facilities are crucial to the animal health corridor that runs through our state, and I’ll continue working with the administration and my colleagues to see these projects through.

A special thanks to USDA Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Stephen Censky for joining the forum and to Agricultural Business Council of Kansas City CEO Bob Petersen for inviting me to join for the event.

On Friday, I was pleased to join healthcare leaders and community officials for the ribbon-cutting ceremony of the new SunPorch of Smith Center. This facility will feature skilled nursing beds, assisted living apartments and senior housing units located adjacent to the newly-built Smith County Memorial Hospital & Smith County Family Practice. Thank you to John Grace for his efforts in spearheading this development and to the Schrader and Hubbard Foundations and U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development for their support of this project.

For 75 years, Lindsborg Community Hospital (LCH) has been providing high-quality healthcare to those in Lindsborg and the surrounding area. On Sunday, I joined local residents, community leaders, healthcare providers and hospital officials to celebrate the 75th anniversary of LCH and the many individuals who have given back to their friends and neighbors over the years.

A special thank you to LCH CEO Larry Van Der Wege and Board Chair Chuck Oleen for their leadership and the kind invitation to attend Sunday’s celebration.

Smith County
On Friday, following the ribbon-cutting for SunPorch of Smith Center, I hosted a Smith County stop on my Kansas Listening Tour. During this stop, I joined community officials, business leaders and local residents to discuss a number of issues including healthcare in rural communities, veterans’ access to care, agriculture and the need to pass the USMCA, immigration, gun violence and rural broadband. Thanks to all those who took time out of their day to share their thoughts and ideas with me.

Jewell County
On Friday, I joined local producers for Mankato Livestock Inc.’s Friday sale. While at the sale, I visited with local farmers and ranchers regarding recent issues in ag and trade, including the need to pass USMCA so our producers have greater access to Canadian and Mexican markets, as well as the recently-announced trade agreement with Japan.We also discussed my work to support the ag community and make certain rural communities have sufficient access to broadband and needed digital infrastructure. Thanks to all those in Mankato for their productive conversation that helps to shape my work in Washington, D.C., and to Mankato Livestock Inc. for allowing me to join Friday’s sale.

My own interest in public service was sparked by an internship for Kansas First District Congressman Keith Sebelius in 1974. As an intern, I had the chance to learn firsthand how a Congressional office operates and how the legislative process works. I am proud to be able to offer this same opportunity in my Senate office today, where I have interns year-round working closely with my staff on behalf of Kansans.

Applications for internships in my Washington, D.C. and Kansas offices for the spring 2020 session are due October 25. Congressional internships are open to qualified undergraduate and graduate students who have an interest in public service and have achieved academic excellence. Click here for more information and to apply.

Kansans in the Office

Tayler Gravett of Weir
David Grover of Columbus

American Occupation Therapy Association
Dan Wright of Olathe
Heather Wright of Olathe

American Physical Therapy Association
Cody Barnett of Wichita

American Planning Association
Chad Bunger of Manhattan
Katherine Djuine of Wichita
Lauren Driscoll of Salina

American Society of Clinical Oncology
Joshua Mammen of Leawood
Peter Veldhuizen of Leawood

Associated General Contractors of Kansas
Mike Gibson of Wichita
Ben Hutton of Wichita
Tom Saffel of Hesston
Darin Traff of Shawnee

Capitol Tour
Brett Bachelor of Lenexa
Rose Bennington of Wichita
Sharon Bryant of Shawnee
Madeleine Burkindine of Leawood
Timothy Burkindine of Leawood
Jan Correll of Pittsburg
Thomas Correll of Pittsburg
Ronda Day of Kansas City
Rodney Day of Kansas City
Sunny Dharod of Lenexa
Lounilyn Alvarez-Erskin of Saint Francis
Robert Erskin of Saint Francis
Ava Gentsch of Lenexa
Michelle Gentsch of Lenexa
Zoe Gentsch of Lenexa
Randy Herold of Kansas City
Vicki Herold of Kansas city
James Johnson of Overland Park
Kasey Johnson of Overland Park
Matt Johnson of Overland Park
Matthew Johnson of Overland Park
Tyler Johnson of Overland Park
Stuart Perez of Pittsburg
Dwight Plumlee of Bonner Springs
Judy Plumlee of Bonner Springs
Amy Sachau of Olathe
David Sachau of Olathe
Chris Sass of Westmoreland
Danielle Sass of Bonner Springs
Della Sass of Westmoreland
Linda Shirk of Lawrence
Kris Stouffer of Overland Park
Michael Stouffer of Overland Park
Barbara Timmermann of Lawrence
Jozef Timmermann of Lawrence
Jace Ward of Wamego
Lisa Ward of Wamego
Roger Ward of Wamego
Matt Wilbur of Olathe
Sarah Wilbur of Olathe
Gabrielle Wyatt of Lenexa
Jess Wyatt of Lenexa

City of Fort Scott and Bourbon County Economic Development Council
Rachel Pruitt of Fort Scott
Alyson Turvey of Fort Scott
Robert Uhler of Fort Scott

Joe Caldwell of Lawrence
Jason Evelyn of Overland Park
Rick Sutphin of Lenexa
Grant White of Bonner Springs 

Industry Advisory Board of ASME
Scott Stallard of Prairie Village

Jack and Jill of America
Aaron Mason of Olathe
Bryace Mason of Olathe
Rhonda Mason of Olathe
Scott Mason of Olathe
Jon Porter of Olathe
Walter Porter III of Olathe

Kansas Head Start Directors
Joanie Burke of Pittsburg
Kimberley Sill of Olathe

Kansas HOSA
Hannah Eckstein of Frontenac
Mikayla Kitchen of Pittsburg
Seth Nutt of Kansas City
Lisa Stouffer of Kansas City

Kansas National Education Association
Mark Farr of Nickerson
Roni Knight of Garden City
Angie Powers of Olathe
Kevin Ricmann of Vassar

Kansas Representatives
Sydney Carlin of Manhattan
Stephanie Clayton of Overland Park

Kaufman Foundation
Jason Wiens of Roeland Park

Kansas Municipal Utilities (KMU), Kansas Municipal Energy Agency (KMEA) and Kansas Power Pool (KPP)
Mark Chesney of Derby
Colin Hansen of McPherson
Paul Mahlberg of Olathe
Jason Rottinghaus of Overland Park

Maize High School
Amy Hammett of Haven

Oncology Nursing Society
Alexander Ambuehl of Wichita
Brandi Gutzmer of Wichita
Yvonne Ward of Linwood

Skills USA Kansas
Allie Brodbeck of Winfield
Halee Greene of Topeka
Hady Huckaba of Lenexa
Carey Keller of Winfield
Dwight Plumke of Bonner Springs
Judy Plumke of Bonner Springs

Stand Up Republic
Cody Barnett of Wichita
Hannah Krummer of Linsborg
Alan LaPolice of Manhattan
William Payne of Kansas City

Sunflower Electric Power Corp
Clare Gustin of Hays
Tara Mays of Topeka
Mike Morley of Hays

Truckload Carriers Association
Al Anderson of Overland Park
Brenda Miller of Kansas City

Honored to Serve You in Washington
It is an honor to serve you in Washington, D.C. Thank you to the many Kansans who have been calling and writing in to share their thoughts and opinions on the issues our state and country face. I appreciate the words of Kansans, whether in the form of a letter, a Facebook comment, or a phone call, who wish to make their voice heard.

Please let me know how I can be of assistance. You can contact me by email by clicking here. You can also click here to contact me through one of my Kansas offices or my Washington, D.C., office.

Very truly yours,


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